GUEST: Author Brian Fies

The phone rings. John Hickam turns away from Homer to talk on the phone.

“Well, who’s down there now?” asks John. “Hold on just a second.” John turns back to Homer. “Hey, listen here. I had an engineer estimate a new walkway. They had some cement left over, so it got caught in the rain. It’s probably ruined. But if you wanna haul it out, it’s all yours.”

“Thanks, Dad,” says Homer, smiling. John turns back to his phone call.

“I’ll be down in a minute,” says John. He hangs up the phone and looks at the door where Homer stood.

In the school, a substitute teacher explains the assignment to the chemistry class.

“And Miss Riley wanted to make sure you document your results,” says the substitute teacher. “You will be graded when she returns. You have one hour.”

Meanwhile, Quentin and Homer are discussing a new rocket propellant in the back of the class. Quentin holds a spoon next to a Bunsen burner.

“Potassium chloride has a potassium atom,” says Quentin. “If we mix it with sugar and add heat, we’ll get three parts oxygen, two parts carbon dioxide, along with some other by-products. In other words, lots of good expanding gases. It should make an excellent propellant.”

Homer smiles. “It smells like candy,” says Homer. Quentin holds the spoon in the flame, and there’s a flash as it ignites.

The boys look at each other, and laugh.

“Better get started!” says the substitute teacher.

In This Episode

  • Jake Gyllenhall as Homer Hickam
  • Chris Cooper as John Hickam
  • Chris Owen as Quentin
  • Rockford Davis as Chemistry Teacher
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